Real Madrid full-back Marcelo was targeted with racist chants by Atletico Madrid supporters after the 3-0 Copa del Rey semifinal first-leg win on Wednesday night at the Bernabeu.
As Marcelo, an unused substitute in the game, took part in a short warm-down session on the pitch about 20 minutes after the final whistle, around 500 Atletico fans were still waiting in the top north corner of the stadium as a security measure.
ESPN FC’s Graham Hunter heard monkey noises coming from the visiting section, as well as a racially insulting song, while he said that additional chants were directed at the player’s son, who was also on the pitch.
Brutal, horrible, disgusting monkey chants at Marcelo by the Atletico fans while he & the other Madrid subs do their warm down. Inexcusable— Graham Hunter (@BumperGraham) February 5, 2014
#Marcelo just turns and looks up at them in total disgust, puzzlement and bemusement at them. Hands on hips as if to say 'you clowns'— Graham Hunter (@BumperGraham) February 5, 2014
His kid comes on the pitch & runs to his arms while these fools sing "hope your dad dies". This isn't football as I know it. Rotten to core— Graham Hunter (@BumperGraham) February 5, 2014
The incident was not initially picked up in the Spanish media, and no players or coaches from either team appear to have been asked about it. But after it was highlighted in the UK, Marca's photographer confirmed that he had heard a chant of "Marcelo is a monkey" coming from the Atletico fans, who were waiting for permission to leave. ABC's blogger also reported that the Atletico ultras, upon seeing Marcelo with his son, began chanting: "He's not your father."
After the match, Marcelo did not reference the abuse on Twitter, writing only: “Great game. Let’s goooooo #HalaMadrid.”
Gran partido vamoooos #HalaMadrid— Marcelo Vieira (@12MarceloV) February 5, 2014
La Liga clubs whose supporters are found guilty of racist abuse can be fined up to sixty thousand euros and have their ground closed for subsequent games. The country’s football authorities are now slowly adopting a stronger stance, predominantly punishing individuals involved.
Real Betis defender Paulao spoke publicly about how upset he and his family had been when his own club’s supporters appeared to abuse him during a defeat to local rivals Sevilla last November.
However, even after FIFA president Sepp Blatter tweeted that he had been “sickened” by the incident, Betis -- whose fans were also accused of racially abusing their own midfielder Nosa Igiebor last season -- limited themselves to another tweet condemning “any violent or racist behaviour.”
Two Elche fans were singled out for punishment after directing racist abuse at Granada defender Allan-Romeo Nyom during a game last October, after Nyom himself drew attention to the abuse he was receiving, and referee Carlos Del Cerro stopped the game and then included details of the incident in his official report. The two young Elche supporters were reportedly to be fined four thousand euros each and banned from attending sports events for 12 months.
Barcelona right-back Dani Alves is among a number of La Liga players to have condemned racist behaviour by supporters in the past, pointing out that action is rarely taken against those perpetrating it.
“It does not just happen here,” Alves said after a Copa del Rey game at Real Madrid in January 2013. “I go through this constantly in all the grounds I go to. It is a shame, as fans can like you or not, and there can be heated moments within games, but the crowd should just support their own team."